“I believe in the power of art – not only is it a form of self-expression, but it also leads people from different places to unite,” says Ivana Wong, a popular singer-songwriter who has found a new passion in multidisciplinary arts. In this season of joy and love, she has joined hands with curator (and decades-long friend) Shin Wong to connect the community through art at her solo exhibition at ArtisTree.
Featuring Ivana’s first large-scale installation, ArtisTree Selects: The Missing Something – The Singing Canvases is a poetic sensory journey around the beauty of sharing. “We’re all capable of sharing, but sometimes we forget that,” she says. With the exhibition open until 8 January 2022, we catch up with the duo to find out more about their creative journey and the unique highlights of this multimedia exhibition.
Hi Ivana and Shin! Can you tell us more about The Missing Something series and this current project?
Ivana: The Missing Something is about the precious little things that we often undervalue or overlook. I think I’ll be working on this art series for the rest of my life – there’s just so much that we’re missing out in our busy lives. And for this project, since it begins in December, I thought it made sense to talk about “sharing”. It’s relevant to everybody because we all have the capability to share; yet sometimes, sharing kindness feels like a lot of effort in our hectic routines.
Shin: Yes – when Ivana talked about The Singing Canvases as the title of the project, it immediately popped out to me. Since the idea was to share an experience – and perhaps the things that we’ve lost, things that we want to talk about or reflect on – it begins with the artist sharing her genuine personal insights with the audience. And this title just sums up what Ivana has been doing for the past 15 years: painting a canvas using her voice. It’s a journey of visual poetry that lets the audience do the painting themselves, while we spark their imagination through music.
What is this “journey of visual poetry” like for the audience?
Ivana: It starts from the dark Tunnel of Confession, with poems that I wrote and blank canvases, which I hope will inspire the audience to fill in with their own images and stories. I imagine visitors – especially office workers in the Taikoo Place community – rushing here during lunchtime; the transitional lighting may help them relax a little and forget about their work.
Then, they will move on to the heart of the show, a white room.
Going into this room is like entering my heart – there are canvases, and they sing. Whenever I experience an emotion, it just turns into music in my head; I guess I was born like that. I’ve arranged the canvases like an orchestra to tell the story of the formation of a snowman through a mix of music, lighting and videography. It takes so much effort for each little water droplet to come together to form a snowman without a face...
Who is this snowman?
Shin: He is the protagonist of the video, but he could also be you, me…anyone. Ivana is using the snowman to tell people that she knows we’re desperate to work together as a community. We need to be friendly with each other, especially at difficult times like these past two years.
Ivana: Exactly, Shin, that’s why I need you – you just “get” me! The snowman has no face, and this may evoke different sentiments in people, so each viewer can imagine their own face on the snowman. At the end of the video, he shares one final smile before he melts. Just like Santa, he always shares the gift of kindness, which could be a present, a letter or just a hug or smile. If all of us are willing to make the effort to share a smile, then the world will glow. The story is quite abstract, but the message is simple: “Anyone could be someone’s Santa.”
That’s a beautiful message delivered through a beautiful artwork. This is Ivana’s first large-scale installation – were there any challenges?
Shin: It was crazy that we could transform this cube of ArtisTree from a black box into a white box. We had to figure out the best place to put the installation, the mapping…and Ivana was really persistent about certain things! But the result is worth it; I’m proud of her.
Ivana: ArtisTree has been very supportive. My first solo large-scale installation is presented here, which says it all – how much it means to me to have their support and the opportunity to create this work here.